The first intersection Sandy Jablonski manned as a race marshal for the Tour de 'Toona was at the soccer field where Eastview Street meets West Loop Road near Hollidaysburg 15 years ago.
"I stopped two cars," Jablonski said as she prepares for this year's version of the newly reinvigorated race, which begins July 5.
Over the years, Jablonski took responsibility for ever busier intersections.
Mirror file photo
A race marshal directs bicyclists and their support vehicles in the Hollidaysburg area during the 2007 Tour de ’Toona.
This year, she'll be in charge of marshaling volunteers for all the intersections for six races, totaling 340 miles - except the busiest intersections, which require police or other trained personnel to safeguard.
With the tour a little more than two weeks away, Jablonski only has about a quarter of the 130 marshals she'll need.
Neither Jablonski nor Tour Program Director Pam Etters are panicking because they believe they can recruit successfully from a list of prior volunteers.
They're still putting out a call for help to the general public, not only for marshals, but also for people willing to help with registration; setup and tear-down of stages, barriers, tents, water stations and hay bales; hosting of teams; handing out food and drink to workers; and driving official vehicles.
Volunteers don't need to know anything about cycling to help, Etters said, because people can learn what they need to know at an instructional meeting.
There are perks, too - the work is fun plus volunteers get to see the race, hobnob with first-rate athletes and get a T-shirt and thank-you dinner at the Railroaders Memorial Museum, they said.
"It's all good," Jablonski said.
Many volunteers turn out to be "the same folks that volunteer to be soccer officials and those sorts of things," she said. Others are enthusiasts of racing or people who live near the intersections where marshals are needed, Jablonski and Etters said.
Marshals need to be at least 16 and have a driver's license to man an intersection alone, although younger kids can work with others.
A lead car five minutes ahead of the first riders alerts the marshals, then a state police cruiser following that car flags drivers to the side, as do the marshals for motorists who turn onto the race route.
The marshals, of course, hold up the cross traffic as racers approach.
It usually only takes a few minutes for the cyclists to sweep by an intersection, Etters said.
Etters recalls only one problem with a marshal-guarded corner.
"It was a close call," years ago, involving a minivan driver who didn't pay attention when a marshal tried to halt the vehicle from pulling in front of a race straggler, she said.
Otherwise, the main concern is motorists pulling from driveways, she said.
For those who are ambitious to get more deeply involved, host families are needed. Teams are mostly self-sufficient and supply their own food and even air mattresses, she said.
The payoff is the interaction.
"You get to hang out, talk to them, learn a little more about cycling," Etters said.
Those interested can email volunteer@tourde toona.com or call 949-RACE.
"You can never have too many [volunteers]," Etters said. "If someone wants to volunteer for an event, we will find an opportunity."
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.